The People in the Trees

The People in the Trees

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
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Readers of exciting, challenging and visionary literary fiction--including admirers of Norman Rush's Mating , Ann Patchett's State of Wonder , Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible , and Peter Matthiessen's At Play in the Fields of the Lord-- will be drawn to this astonishingly gripping and accomplished first novel. A decade in the writing, this is an anthropological adventure story that combines the visceral allure of a thriller with a profound and tragic vision of what happens when cultures collide. It is a book that instantly catapults Hanya Yanagihara into the company of young novelists who really, really matter.

In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385536776
Branch Call Number: YAN
Characteristics: 368 p. :,map ;,25 cm

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r
ryner
Sep 21, 2017

Weary of performing dull experiments in a university research lab, Norton Perina leaps at the chance to join an anthropological expedition as the team's doctor because, frankly, it promises to prove more interesting than what he's doing currently. Their destination is a remote island in Melanesia, whose inhabitants are an only-recently-contacted tribe. As their small party begins studying and documenting this remote society, they make a number of strange and unsettling observations. First, there are no elderly residents in the small village; and second, the aged, ostracized population they do find wandering the surrounding wild landscape are not only suffering from various mental deterioration, but are also exceptionally, world-record-breakingly long-lived. Perina suspects that there may be some connection between the seeming immortality of the population and their consumption of a peculiar species of turtle living on the island.

Although I had heard good things about this book, the first few somewhat dry chapters had me feeling dubious. I'm glad I persevered -- it was worthwhile and thought-provoking, particularly from environmental, ecological and human rights perspectives. The "protagonist," however, is an exceedingly disagreeable and obnoxious human being throughout the book, and thus a difficult pill for the reader to swallow.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

A strange and disturbing debut novel, this one has stayed with me for some time. Despite its flaws (perspective and structure), I enjoyed this one more than Yanagihara's more popular A Little Life.

olga_larionova Feb 14, 2016

This book is about conflict of science and conscience. It is a difficult read, true, but fascinating nevertheless.
Very hard to read in Overdrive - the footnotes were driving me bananas, as it's impossible to click on a number and go to a footnote and then go back. Instead, I just read all the footnotes AFTER finishing the chapter.

d
ddebner
Jun 15, 2015

THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT PEDOPHILIA. It is a well written book which deals with pedophilia obliquely, but in the end that is what this book is about. In other words, pedophilia is, for most of the book, in the distant background, so much so that it possible to enjoy the rest of the story without thinking about it too much. The end, however, makes it clear that pedophilia was really the topic all along.
This book I does not present anything new about the world or the human condition so the only reason to read it is for entertainment. The writing was so well done that it is entertaining but personally I find non-pedophile based books more worthwhile to read.

m
mclarenbruce
Jun 06, 2015

I'm sorry to say I found nothing to like about this book. The main character was a simple, arrogant narrcissist with nothing of worth to share. The concept of the book is facile and done before in much better ways. The twist at the end is an obvious metaphor. If i wasn't reading this for a book club, would have put it down.

r
rationallady
Mar 20, 2015

This book is a really excellent read, but a disturbing, perhaps shocking, plot element will offend some. I found it an interesting corollary to "The Island of the Colorblind," a nonfiction scientific examination of another South Pacific island written by Oliver Sachs.

geezr_rdr Aug 28, 2014

This is not an enjoyable book, particularly in the Kindle format, where the footnotes are a particular irritation. The monologues by the chronic whiner Nobel laureate, Norton Perina, required a large amount of text skimming in order to get to relevant clumps of the story. The purpose for this book may be the portrayal of a supremely self-justified individual as a model for a celebrated scientist, but the portrayal is flawed in that Norton doesn't really have the chops (the ability) to be successful, due in part to excessive mental wanking without a moral or ethical framework. In my opinion, an interesting concept but mediocre execution.

k
kenkrum
Aug 04, 2014

oprah

w
whitkat2002
Feb 22, 2014

A compelling read. I loved the layering of narrative...the self-deprecating journal entries, the news items, and the overall blind love of a man who pulls together the story of abuse--to both old and young--without prejudice. Of course, the theme of living longer but with dementia strikes home. But the theme that intrigued me was how we can sometimes accept or overlook the dark side--or simply narcissism--of people if they are brilliant or successful in some way. How many of us, and how often, we are protected by social connections, fame, or simple infatuation. . .a startling and thoughtful read on so many levels.

quagga Nov 21, 2013

Dr. Norton Perina is a fascinating character, a closeted gay man who seems nearly incapable of experiencing emotion.

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